School starts back in a few weeks for me, and I spent the summer attending some really cool conferences (mostly Advanced Placement). One of the most important things I discovered at these conferences was the websites that the teachers use to enhance their classroom learning environment. Sure, you could pay some website a lot of money for a service (and we all know that money is as far removed from education in the U.S. as oil and water) so why not gain the same services for FREE!
Here’s the list:
1. Edmodo – What if Facebook was geared toward learning, allowing you to post assignments to a digital locker, group students by class so that only they could access said assignments, give quizzes, provide immediate feedback to parents and students, and build a learning community with other teachers? Well, this is generally what Edmodo does. Who needs digital backpack (which is $99 per year) when you can utilize the assignment feature plus send out a push notification to your students via an app (that is also free) to remind them to do their homework…right on their phone. Not only that, you can create badges for students who do well.
2. Quizlet – Imagine a database of quizzes on every subject imaginable. Now imagine that teachers can create quizzes for their students based on terms and definitions. Now imagine that the student can download an app on their smartphone that allows them to quiz themselves and study for your tests. By the way, it’s free.
3. Memorize – Like Quizlet, this website allows you to make lists of things to memorize for students and they can get the handy app. You can create pages using their handy wizard, then publish them, then students can access them from anywhere to study and memorize material.
4. Kidblog – I used to use WordPress for my student blogging, but sometimes this opens them up to creepers and inappropriate content. With Kidblog there is never a worry about this because students can write entire papers on the blog and only the class and the teacher can see it. The service is completely free, the students can completely design their own blog page using easy features, and there is a handy free app so that students can do writing assignments anywhere they have access to the internet or wifi.
5. Google Docs – Your classroom could become completely paperless with Google Docs and the link I have provided is a step by step tutorial on how to do this. Students can access their Google Docs through a handy app (again, it’s free) and can do writing assignments, presentations, spreadsheets, etc. Many schools are going to Google Docs for their homework and thereby can create a 24/7 classroom where students can get immediate help from teachers at home without giving out personal email addresses. It is awesome, and I plan to use Google Docs and the above websites in years to come.